Your COVID vaccine questions answered by local health and medical experts
You have big questions about COVID-19, the vaccine to protect you from it, and how to get vaccinated.
The latest episode of our local webcast – NJ Press Pass: call the shots – put you in touch with health and medical experts in South Jersey to determine how the vaccine interacts with your body and the logistics of acquiring it.
Meet the experts:
Caryelle Lasher is a communicable disease investigator for the Camden County Health Department who can help us understand how to acquire the vaccine locally. She oversees the county’s major vaccination sites.
Dr Kanad Mukherjee is a Rowan Medicine family physician who oversees the medical facility’s vaccination clinic. He answers questions about bodily interactions, new strains and the efficacy of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Jarrad Safran, based at the Burlington County Times, is the South Jersey COVID-19 vaccine editor for the BCT, Courier Post and The Daily Journal. He visited half a dozen vaccination sites and saw more than 50 people – from healthcare professionals to the elderly – get vaccinated.
“This is the largest and most unprecedented public health effort in modern history, and it is not yet the smoothest process,” Saffren noted.
“Stay patient. There is no target date yet for the general population … go online, find out what you can do now and do it. Learn about the vaccine.”
This is why we called on our health contacts to sort it out.
The professional advice of the doctor:
- The vaccine does not prevent you from actually contracting COVID, it prevents you from having symptomatic COVID and prevents you from having severe COVID.
- The manufacturer of your second dose MUST match the first dose. If you received the Pfizer shot first, you need to follow it up with another Pfizer shot, for example.
- Mukherjee notes the difference between rapid tests and PCR test: the rapid test detects COVID if you already have symptoms. PCR tests detect COVID if you are asymptomatic.
Your questions, their answers:
Q. Am I eligible for the vaccine at this time?
A. Saffren says: I also recommend COVID State Headquarters Online. Look for the NJ COVID HUB (https://covid19.nj.gov/). And then the state phone line (855-568-0545) as well. They can also guide you through eligibility questions. It is highly staffed, with over 250 people taking calls from across the state.
Q. How do I get vaccinated in Camden County? – Laura Zuggi
Rowan Medicine Vaccination Center – rowanmedicine.com/vaccine
Q. How long do they think the vaccine will last? We sort of estimate immunity at 4 months after your infection, will it be the same for the vaccine? – Joe Allen, Township of Gloucester
A. Mukherjee says: We are looking at three types of immunity: antibodies, B cells, and T cells. Antibodies have been found in COVID patients at or about the same level eight to nine months after the disease. initial infection. B and T cells are useful in another response. T cells help identify the virus and kill it. And B cells are memory cells for making antibodies. They are at levels to do their job eight to nine months.
Moderna, he said, should work for a year. This is important because the vaccine works the same way.
Q. As someone with anaphylaxis from a food allergy who also got very sick from the DTP vaccine as a baby / toddler, should I go to my doctor’s office or to an institution? health for this vaccine, contrary to what one might say, a site of mass vaccination? – Karen DiStefano Spring, Deptford
Q. My daughter’s doctor told her not to get the vaccine because it causes infertility, and then he tried to sell her vitamin supplements. I cannot find any supporting information. Her gynecologist says it has no effect on fertility. Do you have information about the vaccine and fertility? – Marie Traum Flynn, County Gloucester
A. Mukherjee says: As of yet, there is no data indicating that it affects or does not affect fertility. Where this idea started to sprout, there is a protein similar to the spike protein that the vaccine works for. And there is a certain leap that causes infertility. One analogy I’ve heard is that … just because your phone number has number 7 and my phone number has number 7 doesn’t mean it’s exactly the same. There are some similarities but not enough for the chain reaction of events to cause infertility. In the Pfizer and Moderna studies, people in the vaccine arm got pregnant, so there is anecdotal part of the data that this may not happen.
Q. I have seen several reports that you can still infect people even if you get vaccinated, that you are only protecting yourself and that you will ALWAYS have to wear masks. Is it true? – Joan Binder Ballard, County Gloucester
A. Mukherjee says: I hope there will be some reduction in asymptomatic spread, which I think is the silver bullet to all of this. That’s technically true. For the Pfizer series, your maximum protection is day 30. For Moderna, it is day 42 – six weeks after the first dose. For now, all we know is that it protects you from symptoms of COVID or bad COVID. We’re not quite sure yet if you can’t broadcast it to others..
Q. One thing I’ve heard from some people is that they had trouble making a second date, let’s say it goes beyond the 21 days, or the 28 days and you still don’t. not had your second appointment, is the vaccine still working? – Jarrad Saffred asked on the show
A. Mukherjee says: Moderna, the vaccine has been studied in a fairly wide window, from day 24 to day 35, if the Moderna line can work. Pfizer has a similar window. ACIP – one of the medical organizations that applies best immunization practices … says the upper limit for both vaccines is day 42. This is the cap you can work with if you are in a precarious situation where you cannot find the vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna have this point, do not restart the series if you are past day 42. Get the second dose.
Q. My parents fit all categories: 75, cancer, heart disease, obesity and still can’t get a date. Even in the future. What are they doing? -Ro Williams
A. Saffren says: Look for local options if there are any. At this point, there may not be. All you can do until more doses are available until more appointments are available is to wait, unfortunately.
Lasher says: Keep looking online and keep checking for available appointments. As we receive more vaccines, more appointments will be available. The state will send emails to anyone who has registered on the sites closest to them. Look for local options, our site is one of them.
Q. What if we received the vaccine in another state, but moved to New Jersey and are due for the second vaccine soon? – Rena Cuneo
A. Lasher says: Right now we don’t expect people to get a second dose only. However, we would be happy to talk to someone throughout this process. Anyone who received their first injection through the NJ registration system will send second dose information this weekend (January 29). …. if there are specific questions about it, we can walk people through it.
Mukherjee says: For Pfizer and Moderna, there is some protection for the first dose. The second dose is a priority … It is the priority to finish the series of doses outside.
Q. What ID do you need to get vaccinated? My grandmother doesn’t have a license. – Mea Pangia
A. Lasher says: We’re just trying to make sure we have the right person for the date. Any type of ID – passport, government issued ID, medical card, just something with that person’s name on it to make sure we have the right person.
Mukherjee says: Same on our site too.
Q. Is there someone to contact for home-immunized seniors who cannot come to the location for immunization due to medical conditions? – Renee Brussow Pilling
A. Lasher says: For our site, it’s been a conversation, having mobile vaccine availability. Not just at home, but in retirement homes and community living sites. It depends on the availability of vaccines. At the moment we are trying to vaccinate as many people as possible. As soon as the vaccine was readily available, that would definitely be the next conversation to have, looking at people who have different mobility issues and making arrangements for the vaccine to reach them or transport options to one of the regional sites. .
Mukherjee says: We’ve had these internal discussions too, about… maybe a truck or something, house calls. But part of the problem lies in the vaccine supply and the type of vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer have storage requirements. Johnson and Johnson, which could come out in the future, has some more favorable ones. So that stuff plays into the supply chain decision and the practicality of that. Part of it depends on the type of vaccine available to do so. Not everything yet lends itself to this type of visit.
Carly Q. Romalino is originally from Gloucester County and has been covering southern Jersey since 2008. She is a Rowan University graduate and six-time New Jersey Press Association award winner.
She is the Courier Post’s “watchdog”, which looks at issues across the region.
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